This book, written with the general reader in mind, provides an interesting and valuable microscopic view of a small nineteenth-century Mennonite village that becomes representative of all the Mennonite colonies and life on the South Russian steppes. Through the many details and individual personalities in one village, the reader gains significant insights into the larger Russian Mennonite world.
The story of Hiershau is unique in another way. The village, as its name implies ("Look here!"), was to be a model, an example of Mennonite agricultural thrift and progress. Planned by the enlightened and progressive Johann Cornies in the first half of the nineteenth century, the village was established to exhibit what the purpose of Mennonite existence in Russia was to be. According to the intentions of the Czarist government, the Mennonites were to be model farmers and examples in other ways for their non-Mennonite neighbours.
Without condemning or judging, Huebert is not afraid to be critical where Mennonites failed to live up to their profession of brotherhood and love. Understanding the historical processes within nineteenth and twentieth century Russia, Huebert describes as objectively as possible the many events, accounts for the reasons behind them, and then shows the effects of these events on the people of Hierschau and elsewhere.
-- Harry Loewen (from the Foreword)
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